The Future of Movements in Mind.

As Socrates states about his view on the mind and body problem in philosophy: “The mind is everything; what you think you become.” In term of the relationship between the mind and body anatomically and considering movement and dance as an art form that is based on the visual physical body, how will dance, this special form be if there is only mind for people, and we are all a part of collection of consciousness? Does movement in mind count as thought or movement? What is the relationship between mind and body? Do they exist the same time or there is only the mind or body? Moving in mind isn’t a rare instance, we process and create images in mind, such as our memory. For dancers, it is very normal to redeploy muscles in mind, perfect the movement, and even choreograph in mind. However, nowadays, the concept of metaverse and virtual reality evolves, will dance as an art form vanish at that point? From three perspectives, dance in mind can be a mental practice for dancers that has positive impact on the body outcome, and the possible future of movements in mind as technology develop also with a philosophy identity for dance.

To begin with, mental practice as a pragmatic method for athletes, performers, and dancers is proven to be helpful and effective for the physical outcome. Mental practice is a process to visualize movement in mind without actually doing it with physical effort. “According to a study done at the Cleveland Clinic, which found that participants could strengthen muscles just by visualizing a physical movement.” In this study, as long as the participant have prior knowledge and experience of the physical movement they are visualizing and hoping to be improved on, they will show a positive result after practicing the movements in mind. Some advantage will be learning new skills faster, recover for an injury, strengthening the body, releases stress by creating confidence and familiarity with the movement, having an optimistic phycological hint, and therefore be more effective in general. The study also shows mental practice is something even surgeons do before they have the surgery on patients. With a scientific experiment, “In the study, the participants were split up into four groups. The first group performed mental contractions of their pinkie finger. The second group performed mental contractions of their elbows, instead of their pinkie fingers. The third group did physical training to strengthen their pinkie fingers. You know, the traditional way that we all get stronger pinkie fingers.  And the final group did no training at all. So who won? Not surprisingly, those who trained physically showed the most improvement, increasing muscle strength by 53%. But those who performed mental contractions of their pinkie fingers improved strength by 35%. Just by visualizing it!” The potential of mental practice for dancers and performers is enormous. Mental practice is aiming for a physical outcome and its goal is to serve the physical body, but there is other perspective that is purely focusing the movement on mind itself without the need or essence of trying to get some functional materialistic result out of it.

Since as human, we possess expression, imagination, memory, and dreams, our thought never stops as we experience the surroundings and have reactions based on what we have experienced. Considering the philosophical essence of the coexistence of human’s brain being the consciousness/mind and the physical body raised by Rene Descartes, there are different views on resolving this problem that well-known philosopher mentioned in their statements. There are dualism and monism including the branches of physicalism, idealism, and neutral monism. Dance form now can really take a stance in this problem, for example, Rethorst who wrote A Choreographic Mind gives his stance by utilizing mind in his choreography process. Mind can affect the body to do certain movement. According to Rethorst’s creative process of making dance, “In the studio. when stuck, I use this same watching pastime as a technique. I sit down and cover my eyes. Replaying what I am working on, looking to "see" what can come next.” (Rethorst 26) He uses his mind to help his body to move better and feel the “rightness” (Rethorst 27) when stuck. Not only when making dance, but the visual moving images comes to the mind time to time when eyes are closed, especially when listening to music. This is the evidence of mind and body coexisting, because listening is a physical ability, which is an influence outside of ourselves. This element (music or physical effect in general) stimulates the mind to generate ideas of moving, which create muscle response later on. When our muscle (body) starts to reply to the mind, the moving images in mind change from ideas to movement. Since when we are moving, we think about our movement automatically except we are familiar with a same routine that created muscle memories. The movement in mind the actual body movement starts to change back and forth, sometimes the body decide/affect our mind, and sometimes in reverse. This chain behavior only works for people who is familiar with the motion of all kinds of moving and understand their body. Movement can help us know and make our body sensitive to mind. Dancers react and show their expression by moving. Audiences see the movement and can relate to it even though they are not able to do the exact same movement because human have similar genetic physical construction. Conversely, to take the stance of monism in consideration of dance, I set up a experiment with a small group of dancers. In the experiment, I asked the participants to follow an instructional imagination practice and self-improvise in mind afterward, some feel physical sensation in mind. It is proven by science and the behavior of our dreams that it is the mind that gives us all the sensation of the body rather than sensing and learning through the “actual” reality. The experience that is process with our mind during the days can also have the impact on our imagination when a participant said she viewed videos of movement that she is not capable doing before the experiment but doing it during the visualization and can’t stop thinking about it. Thus, the mind is reflecting our movements based on its sensation to the movement and consistently reacting back and forth.

Does human brain work like a machine? Or the machine was produced to mimic human brain? Or even perhaps it is because human created machine, so the way that machine works is similar to humans’? According to what functionalism claims, human brain works like a machine. It possesses input and output and when processed through mental states, it is calculated like machine. Therefore, if we considered human body in absolute scientific perspective, it is reasonable to be prone in believing functionalism. Being neutral between dualism and materialism, functionalism take the relationship with machine in answering the problem of mind and body. Since in the view of neural activity, for instance, the reason why we feel painful is because of the stimulation of C-fiber. The way human brain conducts information is in biological operation. Thus, in consideration of the relationship between mind and body, the answer that functionalism holds are that no matter what the body (“outside look”) is, the mind operates the same way. The body for a computer is like a shell, and it can be isolated. Just like you can program a software in any computer. This specific position in functionalism was put forward by Hilary Putnam. Machine-state functionalism, which is inspired by the Turing test (Alan test). The Turing machine is
not a physical machine, it is an experimental machine that mimic what functionalism understand human mind.
The Turing machine output the number 1 when it was input (scanned) black square, and further stimulate
certain behavior.

Thus, to think about the difference between human brain and computer, will our cells and neuro nerves be electronic wire and program like a software? In my opinion, just like what John Searle states with Chinese Room, there are so much more of our mind that is outside the set program that a machine only possessed. A machine can only output what the program coded. Many reactions (output) are evolved during the revolution around the society. Stereotype and symbolism are created to break the box. The most important is that Turing machine ignore the six senses and emotion of human, which doesn’t have an input to cause the output. But if functionalist would like to argue, they will claim that your six-senses is triggered by unknown symptom inside this closed loop. On the other hand, the biggest contradiction can prove functionalism wrong is that there are historical and valid art/sports that requires the physical body. The manipulation of the mind and body for a dancer, especially a ballerina who follows the strict set standard to control their body is totally outside the range that Turing machine can do. The most important is that not only a ballet dancer uses body expression to visualize mind, and the body itself is the output, but also, some movement that cannot be accomplished by the actual body can be processed through the mind. There is no one in this world can do a ballet perfectly, there is only the “better.” In this case, does it mean principal dancer doesn’t know what is the standard of a perfect arabesque? Of course not, even recreational dancers know the requirements of the move and what ballet desire. However, our muscle can’t always perform what our mind desires, we can only be as close to perfect as possible. And this is the main difference of human brain and body and machines. The characterization of human chasing toward perfection but can’t achieve it is what machine doesn’t possess. Even the program tells it to make mistake in purpose, it doesn’t have the ability of trying to reach for perfection. It is created to be perfect, even the intentional imperfection and randomness is considered perfection. For example, the great New York chorographer Yvonne Rainer states in her book WORK1961-73,“The Mind is A Muscle,” (Rainer 63) she believes the mind must have a human body to optimize its ability and artsy. These opposition can argue against the claims of machine-stated functionalism, which is the nonphysical presentation of the mind (programmatic input and output).

In addition, the machine isn’t able to trigger useless nonsense, which human can easily do. The body has the meaning to be present, it isn’t always controlled by mind. In my experience while dancing free works, nonsense movement and unconscious improvision stimulate the mind on the contrary. This is not because of muscle memory, or training, it is caused by music, people around you, your emotion, the environment, narration going through your mind that is creating at the same time while the body is moving, and so on. For instance, there is also proof in the athletic field. The greatest gymnast Simone Biles experienced twisty during Olympics Tokyo2020. It is proven to a mental block for professional gymnast. They can lose their sensation of the space since they practiced so much advanced twisting moves that prevent them from doing a straight layout (back flip that doesn’t allow a gymnast to twist the body in air). Even if the brain/mind tells the body/muscle to just do a straight layout, but the muscle just naturally want to twist. The miscommunication and disconnected bridge can cause injury and accident especially under pressure. Therefore, Simone Biles quite the team final because of this mental illness. These occurrences also prove the difference between a human mind and a Turing machine. And the fact that the complex connection of the mind and body. If in the future Olympics we invent AI athletes,
will a machine experience twisty? As human, we should definitely cherish our imperfection, and our ability to fight for perfection.

Consequently, from various perspectives, there are so many unsure possibilities for the movement to behold. There is possibility that anything can contain our expression, movement, and muscle reaction/sensation. Also, there is a chance that our world is based on what idealists said, and dance will be a shared conscious and virtual idea in the future. Or perhaps be replaced by machines. No matter how dance will evolve, the most important thing is to ensure the possible connection between the mind and body and make the most out of what we can do now under the world we are given.

Rethorst, Susan “A Choreographic Mind.” A Choreographic Mind Autobodygraphical writing, Thearter Academy Helsinki, Department of Dance, Kinesis2, 2012. pp.14-36.

The author talks about his method of making dance, which came from visualization in mind. He also encourages what he called cornerness, meaning sensory, expression and not planned export of movement when creating dance. His idea and experience of making dance conclude my creative process and inspire me to write about this behavior. I further develop the concept basing on his article.

Miller, Michael. “Envisioning Your Way to Success: The Power of Mental Practice.” Sixseconds, Oct 18, 2022.

Rainer, Yvonne. “Work 1961-73.” Primary Information, 2020. pp.63.
The author contains her works and choreographic methods with the statement focusing on the mind and body
in dancing.